Allies to the Pelted of the Alliance, the Eldritch are an estranged offshoot of humanity, espers and isolationists.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Government
- 3 History
- 4 Language
- 5 Social Overview
- 6 Genealogies
- 7 Notable Characters
- 8 All Characters
- 9 References
Light-gravity-worlders, the Eldritch are tall, bipedal humanoids who are usually between six and seven feet in height, with thinner-than-human builds for both men and women. Bred from a very small gene pool (and tweaked by nanotech engineering), they are all pale with white hair; hair is straight or with a very slight wave, and is silky or satiny in texture. Eye colors tend toward pale shades of blue, green, grey or yellow, although darker shades are not unheard of (Lisinthir's eyes are a dark sapphire). They also have some "local" specific colors, with Eldritch names:
- heath eyes: hazel but purple-to-pink-to-yellow-to-brown
- heather eyes: a pale brown with lavender/purple tones
- moss eyes: green with gray-brown tones
See also: Eldritch Costume
The Eldritch are humanoid enough to reproduce with humans, though such children are born Eldritch. (Note: Lisnthir Lauvet Imthereli and the Queen Ransomed (Chatcaava) have twins, made possible by her ability to manipulate changes within her own body and thus choose to be fertile with him.) The lighter gravity of their world has made them taller and more brittle; their metabolisms are a jumble of too-quick and too-slow, giving them a higher average body temperature and much more finicky guts. They process toxins quickly but are prone to genetic diseases, and have reproduction problems.
As people they are all born with some amount of esper talent, though their abilities have been hobbled by a culture that discourages tactile contact (and the enhancement of the ability that comes with it).
Eldritch age at roughly the same rate as humans up to adulthood, at which point the aging process slows dramatically. Early Eldritch could expect to live to 500 or 600, while the current generation of Eldritch average about 1,200-1,500 years; each generation appears to be living longer.
Also, Eldritch have no morning breath. 
- Treaties with the Alliance include strictures pertaining to the Veil: only five members of the Alliance in total may learn Eldren, and Eldritch generally do not share stories, histories, or even most personal anecdotes about life on Escutcheon with aliens. Medical tests performed by Alliance medical personnel will function well enough to provide a healer or doctor with information to treat the patient, but all records will be automatically deleted from the system.
Fassiana's recitation: "Jerisa was a firebrand and an autocrat, not the easiest woman to serve. Some wonder if the war with Corel could have been prevented had she been less dictatorial. But there was no question that her iron hand was a necessity in the wake of that war, and she kept us from fragmenting when we might otherwise have gone over into hysteria and useless infighting. We had begun with a sizable population and had that population abruptly deleted. That we survived at all was Jerisa's doing. But her reign left scars, and Maraesa's was a softer hand. She had a backbone yet, but she did not love conflict, and believed that we needed time to settle down after the excitement of our early years.
Maraesa allowed us time to heal. Part of that was good sense. The other was that she was not in love with the outworld. She cultivated them with consummate skill, but only as much was necessary for our survival, and to maintain the treaty. She did not enjoy it. She considered our alliance with aliens a necessary evil, rather than an unqualified positive, and her reign created an insular court no longer accustomed to change or conflict. But she had the good sense to select Liolesa for her heir, and Liolesa, though she hid it through her heirship, was an ardent advocate for stronger ties with the outworld.
When Liolesa took the throne, she invited Sellelvi in to shake up the court and see how the pieces fell out. To test its strength and resilience... identify her true enemies, her true allies, and the parties who had not yet decided either way. She also wanted to make a statement of her own principles, and that she intended to be a very different ruler from Maraesa."
The Reign of Queen Jerisa:
- The War with Corel
The Reign of Queen Maraesa:
- The events in "Precious Things"
- Liolesa's trip off-world as heir
The Reign of Queen Liolesa:
- Fasianyl and Sellelvi
- Lisinthir's cultivation after his arrival at Ontine
- Reese's cultivation
Spoken and Written Language
Eldritch have three names: a personal name, a family name, and a House name (or for tenants, the family name of their lord or lady).
Eldritch family names are typically two syllables (for example: Seni, Jesa, Tera), and House names are long (for example: Jisiensire, Laisrathera, Deriline). Personal names tend to be longer for nobles than for tenants, and usually have a contracted form (milk name) for intimates (as well as the old-fashioned poetical custom of song names). The final name indicates “where the buck stops” for that particular person, so noble names will stop at the House, while tenant names will stop at the family of the noble they owe allegiance to. (So Jahir Seni Galare owes his allegiance to the Galare house, while his tenant Tassi Feril Seni owes her allegiance to the Seni family.)
Eldritch move between names and titles depending on the kind of attention they want their listener to give them, much the way they do with color-shading their language to warn their listeners how their words should be interpreted. Calling someone by a cradle name is a way of saying ‘this is something I would say only to someone I have a long or deep trust with’ and by a song name (if they know/have one), ‘this is something higher than us and dearer’ and by their title as a way to remind them of their responsibilities, and by their full name, in the same way they might choose to shade a word neutral gray on purpose.
Shorter names were more common in earlier generations, and people who are carrying a name down generations might not have cradle names. Sometimes a parent might choose a cradle name as a birth name, however, like Jeasa who decided to name Jahir with a milk name, because "all the world loves him so well he needs no formal name."
A diminutive used only by family, lovers and close friends. Implies long or intimate connection: "We also have sweet names, or nursery names, or... milk names. I do not know how I would translate it. Shorter than our full names, usually, and employed only by intimates."  Also referred to as cradle names.
"We have a tendency toward many names. [...] Song names [are] things chosen from symbol and myth. [...] Everyone who is loved by someone who wishes to bestow one [gets a song name]." 
- Hirianthial gave Laiselin the song name Butterfly, "because she was the unexpected beauty that graced my life." To Theresa, he says: "I will call you my Courage." Theresa gives Hirianthial the song name "my Heart". (Jahir also frequently calls Sediryl "my heart" -- see for example nearly every chapter of Farmer's Crown -- but it's unclear whether he means it as a song name or simply as an endearment.)
Forms of Address
See also Eldren Relationship Terms.
The primary hierarchy in Eldritch society involves who owes a duty to whom. Because the nobles have given their allegiance to Liolesa, they address her as they would their liegelady, and use simply ‘my lady’ or ‘my liege.' People acting outside the direct vassal-to-lord relationship, or people who owe their fealty to a noble who owes their loyalty to the Queen, should or will properly address the queen as ‘my Queen.’ Nobles who are behaving with excessive formality, or who are abasing themselves, might also use ‘my Queen,' or 'Your Majesty.'
The tenants that owe allegiance to an Eldritch noble also call their noble ‘my lady’ or ‘my lord,’ because their fealty is owed to them directly. Nobles to whom they do not owe allegiance might be addressed as ‘Lord so-and-so’ or ‘Lady so-and-so’, but they’re almost never ‘my’ lady or lord. The possessives are important, indicating consent to the relationship. For tenants to address other nobles as ‘my’ lord or lady isn’t strictly incorrect, as they’re all considered social inferiors to the nobility. But it’s one of the ways they can show their consent to be governed.
None of this is strictly policed or codified, surprisingly, given the Eldritch obsession for rigid social stratification. Mostly because the interactions between the social classes are so infrequent that there isn’t much opportunity for anyone to transgress. The only thing even remotely like an Eldritch middle class exists in the capital, which is the only city large enough to host merchants and distributors, and Liolesa is, of course, tolerant of their ‘encroachment’ on the privileges of their betters. But the nobles like Sediryl who went out among their tenants frequently enough to be recognized were rare; most nobles preferred to employ servants and factors to act as go-betweens.
The servants and tenants are known by the family they serve: Nuera’s social secretary would be known as [First Name] [Surname] Nuera. They cannot claim the House name unless they are members of the noble family enrolled in that House; the final name of the three is always the ‘last stop’ in terms of where they owe their fealty. So John Smith Nuera, if he existed, would be a peasant who worked for the Nuera Galare family, while Sediryl Nuera Galare owes her fealty to the head of the Galare House.
The heads of the various Houses, while they are the Queen’s vassals, keep their House names as their final names, as a symbol of their proper allegiances. Maybe that’s why there continues to be so much strife. Someone should tell Liolesa to make them all append ‘Galare’ to the ends of their names so they’ll remember the chain of command.
The Eldritch began forming their society on the trip to their world, and had codified it by not long after Settlement, despite the fact that the effects of their genetic manipulation had become unpredictable. Each succeeding generation was longer-lived than the one before it, and the confusion and upheaval this created caused the Eldritch to cling to what conventions they'd created. This tendency toward parochialism was only magnified by the war that broke out not long after Settlement for reasons not clearly remembered or consistently recorded: some claim it was the result of mental talent deranged by the treatments they'd undertaken, others claimed it was a political struggle. Whatever the case, in the war's aftermath the Church was given the assignment of finding and disposing of talents with the potential to derange their carriers. This removed a large chunk of the population shortly before it was discovered that Eldritch fertility had become erratic. For unknown reasons, fertility is linked with powerful esper talents, so the people purged were the ones most likely to successfully reproduce.
The Eldritch have been growing longer-lived and shrinking in population since Settlement. The twenty noble Houses that were once a small segment of the population have become the majority of its peoples, hollowing out the working populace and destroying the economy. More and more the ruling elite have nothing to rule as the towns established at Settlement have "died," leaving the people in them to disperse in search of places where roofs don't leak and food can be bought.
Never large in number, the Eldritch are now in danger of extinction, partially from the wreckage of their economy and partially because of fertility issues. In the wake of this growing peril, the Eldritch as a whole have responded by becoming even more rigid in their customs and habits at a time when they desperately need to look elsewhere for help.
See also: Eldritch Government
See also: Eldritch Families
See also: Eldritch Heraldry
See also: Eldritch Holidays (also covering weddings)
Eldritch Noble Society
The Eldritch had twenty noble Houses established just prior to Settlement, of which Jisiensire is now the smallest in number (though among the richest). Twelve of those noble Houses have vanished.
Eldritch nobles are considered to have come of age shortly after they cease shearing their hair (boys) or wearing it loose (girls), usually around age 14. Male and female children are permitted to play together until adolescence, when serious social strictures formalize their interaction. They are presented at court when they reach their early twenties, at which point they are considered eligible prospects. (Note: It was not unusual in the past for children to be married/betrothed at a young age, and while this still occurs, it is usually a political act; the children remain in their family's households until they are old enough for formal presentation.)
Eligible maidens' portraits are displayed on "courting boards," small, portable wooden boards with holds in them for painted portraits. These courting boards allow a family to see who might be a suitable marriage prospect. Males are expected to court likely prospects, although it is the female's prerogative to make the actual proposal.
Single-dagger men: "But oh, Captain Eddings! Hirianthial Sarel is a single-dagger man! We don't touch when we dance, so women have fans in summer and wands in winter, and men have daggers. You're supposed to touch wands and daggers instead of hands. Most men will use a plain dagger for this purpose, to make it clear they are not courting entanglements. If such a man uses his family weapons, it is a statement of interest. But there are men who only ever use their family weapons, because they seek commitment and will have no truck with dalliances or casual alliances. Your lord was one such. He only ever danced with his wife." 
The Eldritch attend Summer and Winter Court at Ontine, each of which lasts several weeks; summer court may linger longer, depending on the weather. Summer Court is considered the courting season; Winter Court is the administrative gathering, where the heads of families arrive to give liege gifts to the Queen, their liegelady, and to inform her or petition her for changes in their administrative or financial situations.
Most noble families own a townhouse on Nobles' Row just outside Ontine to house their members during the season. When court is not is session, nobles reside on family estates on their respective lands.
Marriage and Affairs
A side note here about the apparent taboo against same-sex relationships: because the Eldritch have such trouble with reproduction and are in such desperate need of healthy children, this taboo is more about the perception that people who prefer their same-sex lovers will not feel as inclined to undertake the heartbreaking and tedious task of begetting a child that will survive to term and through its early infancy. Since in many cases, the pursuit of a healthy child can take decades, and several failures before success, the belief that it requires dedication is understandable. That the attempt brings considerable danger for the would-be mother makes it a requirement that the prospective fathers be attentive to their care and comfort, and not privilege other relationships for the duration. As a general rule, then, same-sex relationships are ignored unless they are appearing to prevent the parties in question from doing their duties by the succession. A married Eldritch lady with two children might have a ‘special friend’ without comment in a way an unwed debutante could not, implying as it would that she would turn her husband away in favor of her lover; likewise, males who consort with one another solely, and never father children, are condemned. A man who is either unmarried, or wed and without issue, would never flaunt a male lover until he had proven himself dutiful… and the man who was found to be maintaining a same-sex lover when his wife was either injured or died in childbed would suffer the severest social ostracism for his purported callousness, whether or not he appeared to cherish his wife.
High Eldritch society, in basic, is tolerant of bisexuality when it is accompanied by proof that the actors are willing to produce the next generation… and in fact, there are many marriages that quietly involve looking the other way when the childrearing is done. Other than its enthusiasm, Sediryl’s attitude toward Lisinthir and Jahir’s relationship isn’t actually that strange by Eldritch mores. Jahir’s embarrassment over her interest has more to do with his personal feelings about how he should conduct himself, and not with his desire to conform to social code. For once!
This also makes sense of Lisinthir’s ease with the Emperor’s and Queen Ransomed’s plan. When they speak of keeping one another as lovers but ensuring the succession for both males’ dynasties, they are speaking a language he has been reared since birth to accept. It might be more public about the arrangement than Eldritch are used to, but it crosses and dots all the required t’s and i’s.
I talk here about their relationships to their tenants.
See also Eldritch Servant Classes
Stuff I haven't Covered
- clothing covering the entire body
- taboos on touching
- formal dance
- education of children music, dancing, Universal, estate management, fencing
The head of a family (not a House) is known as Lord or Lady 'Familyname', while family members without authority are known by their first names. Thus, Reese is 'Lady Eddings', but Sediryl, when she was the heir to Nuera, was 'Lady Sediryl'. There are some exceptions; for example, Jeasa still styles herself 'Lady Jeasa', leaving the title of 'Lord Seni' to her heir.
The title can be shortened: 'Seni', 'Lauvet'. Both men and women will use the shortened form to refer to a person, but using it as a form of address is almost entirely relegated to men, of other men. So anyone might refer to Lisinthir as 'Lauvet' when writing or speaking of him to someone else, but only men who know him well will call him 'Lauvet' to his face.
This gender divide in title usage can be traced to the historical practice of men greeting each other by their family names within a House, or by House names when meeting strangers. The House-name-alone custom has mostly died out, because this construction is now associated with heads of family or Household, and men are almost never either. When Jahir and Lisinthir call each other 'Imthereli' and 'Galare', it is a romantic anachronism, akin to a modern-day human falling back on courtly medieval language.
There is no definitive modern title for the head of a House. Eldritch not of that House will name the matriarch or patriarch as the head of the family, as when people refer to Lisinthir, now the head of Imthereli, as 'Lord Lauvet', but there is no differentiation between other heads of families within that House. 
Eldritch Tenant Society
Tenant villages generally have a headwoman or headman, who makes any major decisions and speaks for everyone on the rare occasions that the need for such arises.
Most tenants live in some degree of "benign neglect" from their liegeladies, with a single yearly visit, which can vary from largely symbolic to actually practical, depending on the lady.
Sediryl's investiture gift allows the tenantry to communicate and visit with each other, which starts a transformation of their lives that they take to calling the "season of the lily".
Crime and Punishment
The Eldritch are rigid conformists and have a habit of public punishment of those who dare to step outside the bounds of convention, with a tradition of things such as public humiliation in stocks.
More serious crimes by tenants were punished by public whipping or lashing, with 100 strokes being considered the full number. This was effectively a death sentence, due to the unavailability of medical care.
After the Attendant's and Sediryl's public lashing in Ontine, both Galare-partisan and isolationist nobles rushed to outlaw the practice as barbaric. In Delen's lake village, Fassiana decreed: "Then, as our faith enjoins, we shall make good works the penalty for wrongdoing, and reserve a cell for those who refuse."
Holidays and Rituals
See also: Eldritch Holidays
See also: Investiture
Treasure and Economy
See also: Eldritch Treasure
Note: the following is contradicted by both author notes (see Galare (House)#References) and published works (such as Farmer's Crown, chapter 14, and Major Pieces, "Prophet's Vigil"), which give Jerisa as the mother of Maraesa, Rylaniel, and Theval. The one aspect "voting for" the Saranyl theory is that it would mean that Jerisa also chose a niece as her heir, rather than a daughter, which accords better with the idea that the Eldritch have a long tradition of aunt-to-niece succession. (As Sediryl says in Healer's Wedding, chapter 9: "Women leaders who choose someone other than their own child [as heir] is the norm .... If 'three women in a row' could be construed as one.")
Saranyl Jesa Galare, Jerisa's sister, had three children:
- Maraesa Jesa (who became Queen)
- Rylaniel Jesa (F)
- Rylaniel married a man who took her name and had:
- Liolesa, who would become Queen after Maraesa.
- Rylaniel married a man who took her name and had:
- Theval Jesa (M)
- Even the Wingless, Part Two
- Farmer's Crown, Chapter 9
- A Rose Point Holiday, chapter 11
- Even the Wingless, Part One
- Mindtouch, Chapter 4
- Girl on Fire, Chapter 27
- Laisrathera, Chapter 27
- Rose Point, Part Three
- In the Court of Dragons, Appendices: Eldritch Noble Titles
- Scions' Flight
- Scions' Flight, chapter 3